When you’re looking for icebreaker games for small groups, you already know socialising in groups comes with problems.
There’s the potential for awkward silences. Some of your friends might know each other more than others. Others might be in cliques.
Your group might also be made up of different types of friends, such as study friends and work colleagues. Perhaps you’re all friends from work. There may be language barriers, if your friends are different nationalities.
Initiating conversation can be hard. And you shouldn’t have that responsibility, because then you’re the one they blame, if the group doesn’t gel.
That’s why having a few icebreakers on hand can really help you. You can also use them as warm-ups before larger party games.
In terms of player numbers, I’ve suggested 6-10 people, to maintain the icebreaker’s intimate nature. These numbers are just a suggestion though. Let’s get started on your icebreaker games for small groups.
Icebreaker games for small groups, 1-5
Mix And Meet
You’ll need a large bag of M&Ms, emptied into a large bowl. Assign a meaning to each color, for example, Blue means social life, green is job, yellow means hobbies.
Pass the bowl around and ask everyone to grab at least 3-5 pieces of candy. Then get everyone to take it in turns sharing their stories based on the colors they’ve picked. If they’ve picked more of the same color (e.g. 3 greens), then they share a bit more of the same story.
If you prefer not to use sugary food, you can use poker chips. Playing cards also works, with a meaning assigned to different suits.
The Human Knot
Get everyone to stand in a circle, and once assembled, ask people to stretch across and take the hand of two other players. Make sure everyone is connected up before moving on with the game.
The group now tries to untangle the “human knot” they’ve made – all without letting go of each other. Anyone who does can rejoin the game, by reaching for another player’s hands.
Favorite Moments in a Hat
Sit eveyone down in a circle, and give each person 5 yellow Post It notes and a pen. Ask everyone to write down one favorite personal moment per note but to leave off their name. Gather all the notes and shuffle them in a hat. Then invite each person to reach in and read out a note. Everyone has to guess who it belongs to.
Depending on how well you know each other, you can change up this topic to bring out different connections. Work experiences, fears overcome, or dating horror stories are other fun alternatives.
This Partycurrent game needs 8 or more players and is something that’s played throughout your party. You’ll also need a big bag of clothes pegs, as everyone needs 5 each.
Firstly, decide as a group which 3-5 words no one will be allowed to say during your party. Pick words that suit your event. So if it’s a dinner, those words might include “work”, “food” and “meeting”. If it’s a birthday, maybe “birthday” and the birthday person’s name (make sure to check they’re okay with this).
You’ll want words that will be hard not to say. (I find “the”, “you” and “um” can be hard words to avoid).
Then give each guest 5 clothes pegs to clip onto their clothes. Explain how players can take a peg anytime they catch another saying one of the banned words. The player who collects the most pegs wins. Players who lose pegs early can remain in the game and try and win their pegs back.
What Lie Is That?
Each person shares two truths and one truth that isn’t (aka a lie). Their lie must be believable, so that it’s harder to guess.
Now everyone tries to figure out which one’s the lie. Once discovered, players can share more about the lie and their truths.
Icebreaker games for small groups, 5-10
Everyone gets the name of a famous person taped to their back, and works the room, asking Yes/No questions to learn who they are. They are only allowed to ask each person one question, before moving on.
The player who can guess who they are with the least number of questions is the winner.
This game is like Chinese Whispers, only with drawing. You’ll need a sketchpad and pens. Arrange the room so everyone is on the floor in a circle. You’ll also need a small of 3-5 sentences that you’ve written, cut into strips and placed in a hat. Only you will have access to this pack. Here are some examples:
- The boy started crying when he accidentally let go of his balloon.
- The horse looked angrily at the tractor that was entering the field.
Nominate someone in the circle to start.
Let them to pick a sentence from the hat. Give them 10 seconds to read it, then 20 seconds to draw it on the pad. The pad is then passed to the player on their left who must work out what the drawing is and write their sentence for this drawing on another page.
This player then does a drawing for the sentence they’ve just written on another blank page. The pad is then passed on, and again this new person must guess the drawing, writing their own sentence, draw this sentence before passing on the pad. When the sketchpad reaches the final person, it should end on a drawing; if not, keep going until it does.
This last person then guesses what the original sentence is based on the last drawing.
Get yourself a pack of 40 index cards. Write a number on one side, e.g. 1, 2, 3, then on the other side of each card, write the name of an object or animal, and shuffle the deck afterwards.
Nominate a person to take a card (number side up). Without showing anyone, this person tells a story about their “life” as the object on the card, but can’t say what that object is. Everyone else has to guess. Whoever gets the most guesses right wins.
What Did You Learn Yesterday
This game is similar to Favorite Moments In A Hat, only this time the topic is deeper. Ask your players to write down 5 things they each learned yesterday, with each thing getting its own Post It note.
Collect up the notes, shuffle them in a bag, then let the first player pick one from the bag and read it out. Everyone else guesses who it belongs to, with the owner sharing more information aftewards.
To wind up this list of icebreaker games for small groups, here’s the simplest game of all.
As your guests arrive at the party, ask each person to take off one of their shoes. Gather these single shoes into a pile ready for the game.
Assemble everyone for the game. Hand each person a shoe that isn’t their own and send them off to find the owner of their “new” shoe and learn something about them. Everyone then feeds back about their new friend.
If shoes are too easy (especially if your group is really small), then give everyone two sticky circles. One circle they wear, the other goes on a board; these second circles are then handed out.
Being the party planner, you know your job is to make sure everyone is happy and socialising well with each other. Whether you’re hosting something small for friends of work, these icebreaker games for small groups will keep everyone feeling upbeat and relaxed. Most of all, they appreciate you helping to break the tension in the group. I wish you luck at your next event.